Special Advisory

Embargoed for Monday, July 29 (6:30 p.m. Sunday)

              Twenty-Six Times More Border Patrol Agents Guarding
                the Mexican Border than the Northern Borde

Disparity Far Greater When Calculated by Miles     of Border to be Guarded

Current Bush Administration Budget Would Have     Little Impact on Contrast

Syracuse, N.Y. July 29—Twenty-six times more Border Patrol agents are now manning the United States border with Mexico than are deployed along the nation's border with Canada, according to government data. And budget proposals sent to Congress so far by the Bush Administration would do almost nothing to alter this disparity.

While the variation in manning levels is vast when examined in terms of the raw numbers of agents, the contrast becomes even larger when the allocation of resources is looked at in relation to the distances that must be protected. The border to the south, for example, currently is defended by one agent for every 1,000 feet. Along the border with Canada, on the other hand, there is only one agent for every sixteen miles.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), currently located within the Justice Department, would be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security proposed by President Bush in June. A core mission is to maintain "control of U.S. borders."

The heavy focus on Mexico is the result of long-standing political, economic and social pressures in the United States. But the development of a world-wide terrorism threat—symbolized by 9/11— suggests that Bush planners may have to consider the wrenching and costly relocation of thousands of Border Patrol agents.

So far, however, government budget documents indicate that this potential issue has not yet been confronted directly, with the administration only requesting a relatively small number of new agents in FY 2003 and indicating that they will be divided on a fifty-fifty basis. Furthermore, INS recruiting documents indicate the agency is only hiring along the border with Mexico and not along the border with Canada.

[For additional information about the manning and enforcement priorities of the INS go to There you will be offered two options. One is to go to TRAC's public site on the INS. The second is TRACFED, a dynamic subscription site with very extensive data on enforcement staffing, spending and other matters for the INS and most other government agencies. The embargo for Monday, July 29 is designed to give reporters time to contact INS officials, federal prosecutors and others about INS activities.]

Other News:

Post 9/11: While there was some decline after 9/11, INS recommendations for criminal prosecution have returned to their recent monthly highs, according to new data from the Justice Department.

In the spring and early summer of 2001, Justice Department records show that the INS was making between 1,500 to 1,700 such referrals each month. Following the attacks, the referrals dropped to 1,070 in November and 1,074 in December. In March of 2002, however, the monthly count was 1,775.

Long term trends: Looked at from a longer perspective, however, the number of INS referrals in fiscal year 2001 was substantially higher than it was a decade and a half before—jumping to 17,933 in FY 2001 from 11,551 in 1986—an increase of 55 percent.

Given the rapid growth in the size of the INS, the increase in its criminal referrals is not surprising. In FY 2001, the INS had a total of 31,971 full-time employees. This is nearly three times more than the 11,371 INS employees in 1986.

INS Outranks FBI in Federal Criminal Convictions

Along with more INS referrals, the Justice Department has credited the INS with more and more prosecutions and convictions:

One result—according to several measures, the INS has now become the most active of all federal agencies, outranking the FBI, DEA, Customs, ATF and IRS.
In FY 2001, for example, INS convictions made up 20.5 % of all such verdicts reached in federal courts. This compared with 19.3% for the FBI, 17.8% for the DEA, 9.7% for the Customs Service, 6.2% for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and 1.6% for the IRS.

(TRAC, associated with Syracuse University, is a non-partisan organization established in 1989 to provide the American people with comprehensive information about the operations of the federal government. Its operations have been supported by the university and a number of philanthropic organizations including the Knight Foundation, the Rockefeller Family Fund, the Open Society Institute, the Beldon Fund, and the New York Times Company Foundation. For detailed information about where to find the latest data on our Website go to

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